Nicola Sturgeon determined for referendum before end of 2023
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However, a pro-Union campaigner has described the First Minister’s single-minded approach as “a gross insult to the people of Scotland”. Ms Sturgeon has made little secret of her determination to force a so-called IndyRef2 since the SNP’s re-election after last year’s Holyrood elections.
Speaking to STV’s Scotland Tonight on Monday, she said: “I intend to do everything within my power to enable that referendum to happen before the end of 2023.
“And we will set out exactly what that means in terms of the date of introduction of legislation when we’ve taken the detailed decisions around that.”
Ms Sturgeon, who has been Scotland’s First Minister since 2014, added: “Obviously, the enabling the referendum is important, but actually what I think is much more exciting as we come out, I hope, of the pandemic and certainly the acute phase of the pandemic is the opportunities that come with Scotland being independent.”
Commenting, Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “This is a gross insult to the people of Scotland.
“Most people in Scotland do not support leaving the UK and an overwhelming majority do not believe there should be another referendum any time soon.”
Ms Nash added: “Politicians should focus on what really matters to people and address the challenges facing our NHS, education and the climate, rather than re-opening a tired old debate and seeking a legal battle over the constitution.
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“Scotland’s best days lie ahead of us as part of the UK, building our shared future – not finding new ways to divide us.”
Despite her proclamations on the subject, Ms Sturgeon’s hopes of securing a referendum depend on Boris Johnson sanctioning one in accordance with Section 30(2) of the Scotland Act 1998 – something he has given no indication he is prepared to do.
Speaking to Express.co.uk in November, Scottish Tory MEP Murdo Fraser suggested Ms Sturgeon was coming under increasing pressure from rank and file members to deliver on her promise.
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He explained: “This is a First Minister who is obsessed with the constitutional question.
“She spent a great deal of her speech talking about another independence referendum when we know that the priority for the great majority of people in Scotland is to focus on Covid recovery.
“I think I saw one opinion poll last week that said that will be 17 percent of people in Scotland want us to have another independence referendum, within the next two years, which is Nicola Sturgeon’s preferred timescale.”
Mr Fraser added: “She is under pressure from her party membership to deliver independence, of course.
“She went into the election in May claiming that the SNP would win an overall majority and that that would be a mandate for another referendum.
“And there is precedent for that because that is what Alex Salmond did back in 2011.
‘She failed to achieve what he achieved back getting an overall majority.”
Scotland previously voted on the question of independence in a referendum held in 2014.
On that occasion, Scots voted to stay in the United Kingdom by 55.3 percent to 44.7 percent.
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